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ORGANIZATION

Organize and maintain your kitchen pantry, refrigerator, freezer, storage cupboards, countertops, cutting boards, pots, pans, utensils, dishes, glassware and silverware.

Purchase an ABC grade fire extinguisher and store underneath kitchen sink. Learn how to use fire extinguisher. Post date of purchase and routine inspection dates.

Visit www.choosemyplate.gov to access USDA Dietary Guidelines. Post USDA Dietary Guidelines in kitchen notebook. Commit to memory.

Plan and track daily menus in full accord with recommended USDA Dietary Guidelines, concentrating on fruits, vegetables, protein, grains and fat free or low fat, calcium rich dairy.  Concentrate on colors--eat a rainbow.  Know what foods belong in each group.  Essential nutrients include carbohydrates, protein and fat.  Your body burns carbohydrates for energy and needs more of this nutrient than any other.  Protein helps to build and repair muscles, skin and every cell in the body.  Fat has more calories per bite than any other nutrient; provides energy; and maintains healthy skin.

Be label and portion conscious.  Drink water and green tea rather than sugary drinks.  Snack on fruits and vegetables.  Try not to skip meals and limit eating out in restaurants.  Incorporate daily exercise activity into your life.

Determine each family member’s total daily calorie budget, and then determine essential nutrients allowance and discretionary calorie allowance. For example, assume a total daily budget of 2000 calories, of which 1,735 should be essential nutrients and leaving 265 discretionary calories.  One pound equals 3500 calories.  Know and manage your Body Mass Index.

Utilize the Internet for menu and recipe ideas. Some of my favorite Web sites are www.epicurious.com, www.foodnetwork.com, www.thefreshmarket.com, www.marthastewart.com, www.allrecipes.com, www.mccormick.com and www.williams-sonoma.com. Check out a variety of cookbooks from your local library and photocopy favorite recipes. Purchase, display, read and reference cooking magazines such as “Fine Cooking”, “Cooks Illustrated” and “Taste of Home”.

Shop early and often for planned menu ingredients. Focus on seasonal fruits and vegetables. Resist the frequent temptation to purchase processed foods. Read product labels and Nutrition Facts before purchase. Be aware of high sodium (especially in canned goods), sugar and saturated fat content.  Saturated fats can be found in butter/stick margarine, bacon, lard, fatty meat, poultry skin, cheeses, cream/half and half, milk and sour cream.  Unsaturated fats are in canola oil, olive oil, vegetable oils, nuts, seed, salad dressings, mayonnaise, olives and avocados.

Practice good personal hygiene. Wash and dry hands thoroughly and frequently to prevent possible food contamination.

Keep kitchen area clean and sanitary. Clean kitchen surfaces and cooking utensils thoroughly before, and after, use. Presoaking pots, pans, dishes and utensils in soapy water will shorten time needed to clean up after meals.

Carefully read entire recipe before attempting to prepare recipe. Gather all recipe ingredients in advance. Follow standard recipe instructions and allow adequate preparation time.

Utilize microwave as recommended for melting and cooking.  Use toaster oven rather than range oven when practical.  A blender is well worth the investment.

Frozen meat should not be left out of the freezer on kitchen countertop or sink to thaw all day. Thaw frozen meat in refrigerator or run partially frozen meat under cold water to thaw completely, then pat meat dry with paper towel and discard paper towel. Use an appropriate food thermometer to test cooked meat for doneness when in doubt.

Assemble all required small electric appliances, pots, pans, chopping boards, utensils and menu ingredients first.

Prepare each menu item systematically. Present culinary creations with attractive flair and in healthy, moderate portions.  Serve family style.  Give thanks. 

Waste not.  Safely store all leftovers in Tupperware or like containers.  Keep a thermometer on wall of refrigerator (set 33 degrees F to 39 degrees F) and freezer (set to below zero degrees F). Check temperatures weekly.